Flying during the holidays is stressful enough. Iowans trying to travel back home over the course of the next few days will probably be experiencing some wrenches thrown into their travel plans.

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Earlier this week, I received an email regarding my flight back home. I use airline travel every few months since most of my family is located on the East Coast. So, by now I thought I had seen it all.

I've almost missed my flight and have had to sweet talk one of the airport workers to let me on the plane...

I've been a witness to multiple health emergencies... 

Heck! I've even had some tragically long layovers...

This experience made me rethink ever flying again.


Three whole days before I was set to fly back to Iowa, a family member who had booked my flight received this email saying that my flight had been cancelled. I spent the next few hours trying to get a game plan figured out.

The customer representatives did the best they could.

After receiving the initial email, I immediately hopped on the phone (and spent an hour on hold) to find out that plenty of other flights were meeting the same fate as mine. The first airline rep said that the earliest flight I could get back was on January 5th, THREE WHOLE DAYS after the time of my initial flight.

This associate on the phone with me trying to book my trip said that there were no flights from the nearest airport to me in Pennsylvania (Scranton) to Cedar Rapids (Eastern Iowa Airport). She told me that most of the flights were canceled due to inclement weather.

Kerri Mac/CANVA
Kerri Mac/CANVA

A few hours later and now on the line with a different airline rep, I was able to book a flight back to Iowa! It turns out that the problem was Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The representative told me that most of the airline's flights out of that airport would be cancelled due to the "inclement weather."

This was a United Airlines flight. Airline officials said that 115 flights were cancelled on Monday, December 27th across their entire system.

Luckily, I was able to book a flight and arrive a day earlier than anticipated.

However, instead of going from Pennsylvania to Chicago to Cedar Rapids, my journey will start in New Jersey then take me to Colorado and FINALLY back to Northern Iowa.

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Inclimate weather (such as the storm expected to come through Eastern Iowa on New Years Day) and some concerns over the Omicron variant have caused delays and cancellations in many airports. Travellers (like myself) worry that staffing shortages may be partly to blame.

Chicago O'Hare as of December 30th has cancelled 673 flights that were to fly between December 30th and January 2nd, according to Flight Aware. These include flights arriving and departing O'Hare.

The majority of cancellations were for flights scheduled for January 1st. This includes 43% or 280 of the flights leaving O'Hare and 39% or 246 of the flights that were supposed to arrive at the Chicago airport on this day. 

Besides weather, another cause for some of these delays is a staffing shortage due to the pandemic. The pilots for many of these flights are attempting to pick up as many shifts as they can, but federal regulations cap their flying time at a certain point, according to Aviation Pros.

Experts suggest checking with your airline and taking another look at your flight information before heading to the airport over the next few days.

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